Altium Designer

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Altium Designer
Altium Designer Logo.png
Developer(s) Altium
Initial release 2005; 13 years ago (2005)
Stable release / August 23, 2018; 52 days ago (2018-08-23)
Written in C#
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Electronic design automation
License Proprietary

Altium Designer is a PCB and electronic design automation software package for printed circuit boards. It is developed by Australian software company Altium Limited.


In 1985, Protel Systems Pty Ltd launched the DOS-based PCB design tool known as Protel PCB (which later emerged into Autotrax). Originally it was sold only in Australia.[1][2] Protel PCB was marketed internationally by HST Technology Pty Ltd. since 1986.[2] Later in 1986 the San Diego-based ACCEL Technologies, Inc. acquired marketing and support responsibilities of the PCB program for the USA, Canada and Mexico under the name Tango PCB.[2]

In 1987, Protel launched the circuit diagram editor Protel Schematic.

The launch of the Windows-based Protel 98 in 1998 saw the consolidation of all components, including Protel Advanced PCB and Protel Advanced Schematic, into a single environment. Protel 99 introduced the first integrated 3D visualization of the PCB assembly, and Altium Designer version 6.8 from 2007 was the first to offer 3D visualization and clearance checking of PCBs directly within the PCB editor.

In April 2011, Altium moved from Australia to Shanghai in China.[3]


Altium Designer's suite contains four main features: schematic capture,[4] 3D PCB design,[5] FPGA development[6] and release/data management.[7]

Schematic capture[edit]

Schematic capture module provides electronics circuit editing functionality, including:

  • Component library management
  • Schematic document editing (component placement, connectivity editing and design rules definition)
  • Integration with several component distributors allows search for components and access to manufacturer's data[8][9]
  • SPICE mixed-signal circuit simulation
  • Pre-layout signal integrity analysis
  • Netlist export
  • Reporting and BoM facilities
  • Multi-channel, hierarchical schematics and design re-use

3D PCB design[edit]

Printed circuit board design module of Altium designer allows:

  • xSignal Wizard: allows the designer to cluster multiple nets into a single signal
  • Support for Flex and Rigid-Flex Design
  • Custom Coverlay Support
  • Live Drill Drawing
  • Add Hole Tolerance
  • PDF 3D Export
  • Dynamic Display of Clearance Boundaries During Routing
  • Enhanced Layer Stack Management
  • Support for Embedded Components
  • Differential Pair Routing Improvements
  • Via Stitching within a User-Defined Area
  • Ibis Model Implementation Editor
  • Pin-Package Delay Support
  • Import wizard to import from Orcad Mentor and other software in to Altium
  • Component footprint library management
  • Smart Component placement
  • Manual trace routing, with support for differential pairs, multi-trace routing, pin-swapping and gate-swapping
  • Automatic trace routing
  • Automated multi-channel layout and routing
  • 3D STEP Model Generation in IPC Wizard
  • Interactive 3D editing of the board and MCAD export to STEP[10]
  • Signal integrity analysis
  • Manufacturing files generation with support for Gerber and ODB++ formats

FPGA and embedded software tools[edit]

FPGA development tools integrated into Altium designer provide the following capabilities:

  • FPGA, PCB and Signal Integrity design synchronization
  • VHDL simulation and debugging[11]
  • FPGA soft processor software development tools (compiler, debugger, profiler) for several embedded processors[12]

Release/data management[edit]

Release and data management tools within Altium designer allow users to:

  • Version control each design, and compare differences textually and visually[13]
  • Batch-process output generation and output formatting (i.e. Gerber files, Pick and Place, PDF schematic and PCB documentation etc.)
  • Create templates for documents and design rules
  • Use configuration management and track all design changes through ECO
  • Create and release design and assembly variants
  • Cloud publishing of design and manufacturing data[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nick Martin .:". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  2. ^ a b c TangoPCB. Tango-PCB 3.12. ACCEL Technologies, Inc. 1987-12-01 [1986]. […] CREDITS […] Program Design: Nick Martin […] Reference Manual: Tom Lupfer […] Production: Cathy Vermillion, Walt Foley […] Product Management: Tom Lupfer, Ray Schnorr […] Derivative Manual Copyright (c) 1986 ACCEL Techologies Inc. […] Original Manual Copyright (c) 1986 HST Technology Pty Ltd […] Software Copyright (c) 1985, 1986 Protel Systems Pty Ltd […] The History of Tango-PCB […] Tango-PCB is a personal computer-based software CAD package for designing Printed Circuit Boards. It was originally written in 1985 by Nick Martin, of Australia, and sold under the name of PROTEL-PCB. HST Technology Pty Ltd maintains sole-worldwide marketing rights for PROTEL-PCB. In 1986, ACCEL Technologies, Inc., of San Diego, California, acquired marketing and support responsibilities for the product in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. […] Working together, engineers from ACCEL, HST and Protel Systems have implemented numerous enhancements to the original product. The Reference Manual was re-written for the American market. ACCEL markets the product under the name Tango-PCB. Tango and Tango-PCB are trademarks of ACCEL Technologies, Inc. PROTEL is a trademark of Protel Systems Pty Ltd. […] ACCEL Technologies, Inc. […] 7358 Trade Street […] San Diego, California 92121 […] (619) 695-2000 […]
  3. ^ Francoise, Anne (2011-04-06). "Altium to transfer HQ from Sydney to Shanghai". EE Times. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  4. ^ "The Ultimate PCB Design Software Comparison | SFCircuits". Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  5. ^ Moretto, Gabe (2007-11-26). "Altium releases 3D PCB visualization".
  6. ^ Holland, Colin (2010-05-25). "Aldec FPGA simulation added to Altium Designer". EE Times.
  7. ^ "Altium announces new publishing and version control capabilities". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  8. ^ "CAD links to disty databases gain momentum". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  9. ^ "Altium releases 3D PCB visualization". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  10. ^ "Aldec FPGA simulation added to Altium Designer". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  11. ^ "Altium announces support for Xilinx MicroBlaze processor". FPGA World. Archived from the original on 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  12. ^ "Altium announces new publishing and version control capabilities". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  13. ^ "Head in the clouds". FPGA Journal. Archived from the original on 2010-12-27. Retrieved 2010-12-21.


External links[edit]